Rooted is a Taiwanese short movie about a gay protagonist and a lifeguard.

Rooted is a Taiwanese short movie about a gay protagonist and his secret crush on a lifeguard. The main character is a young acupuncturist who works with his father. They use traditional Chinese medicine to heal the body. One day, the lead spends his free time relaxing at the beach. He nearly drowns in the ocean, but a lifeguard rescues him. Afterwards, he grows attached to his saviour, who becomes a regular patient at the clinic.

Although Rooted features a gay lead, there is little romance. Instead of finding love, the protagonist goes on a journey of self-discovery. The story emphasizes secret yearning and repressed desires. I appreciate how the filmmaker uses metaphors to convey thoughtful messages. However, the plot seems slow and uneventful. The mundane narrative lacks an exciting climax. Too many scenes are vaguely similar without adding new context.

Rooted Summary



Movie Info:

Taiwan (2023)


30 minutes




Rooted is a mature & interesting short film.

Is Rooted BL?

No, but it has a gay lead.


The lifeguard rescues Wu at the beach.

Wu is a young acupuncturist who works at his father's clinic. He uses traditional Chinese medicine to heal the body. However, he is still in training to become a professional practitioner. His dad handles most tasks when dealing with patients. Wu is only responsible for assisting him with the less essential duties. Wu's father is also a strict parent with traditional beliefs. He believes his child should focus on studying instead of dating. Wu doesn't tell him about his attraction to men.

In his free time, Wu likes hanging out at the beach. One day, he almost drowns while swimming in the ocean. Fortunately, a lifeguard comes to his rescue. Wu is safe and suffers no injuries. Afterwards, Wu observes the lifeguard from a distance. He develops a secret crush on his saviour. Later, the lifeguard visits Wu's clinic for an acupuncture appointment. He recognizes Wu and calls him "the drowning guy".

Wu experiences a sexual awakening. He starts fantasizing about the lifeguard. In his memories, he recalls their bodies touching during the beach rescue. These thoughts arouse him more than he cares to admit. However, Wu tries to repress his desires. He meditates and recites medical passages about the human body, hoping to mitigate the eroticism.

Rooted Cast



Lin Wei Jie (林煒傑)

Wu is portrayed by the Taiwanese actor Lin Wei Jie (林煒傑).

Wu is an acupuncturist who studies traditional Chinese medicine. He is training to be a practitioner. Wu works at his father's clinic, serving as his assistant. Wu's dad is strict toward his son. One day, Wu nearly drowns at the beach. He becomes infatuated with the lifeguard who saved his life.

Lin Wei Jie

Lin Wei Jie (林煒傑) is a Taiwanese actor. He is born on February 10, 2000.

Lin Wei Jie (林煒傑) is a Taiwanese actor. He is born on February 10, 2000. His first BL project is the 2022 series, DNA Says I Love You. He is the lead of the 2023 short movie, Rooted.

Supporting Cast

The lifeguard is portrayed by Taiwanese actor Wang Yuan Hom (王言煥).


Wang Yuan Hom (王言煥)

Wu's father is portrayed by Taiwanese actor Wang Len Shen (王嵐申).

Wu's dad

Wang Len Shen (王嵐申)

Cast Highlights

  • Wu's actor (Li Wei Jie) has a supporting role in the 2022 Taiwanese BL series DNA Says I Love You.

Rooted Review


Movie Review Score: 6.3

Wu talks to the lifeguard at night.

Rooted is a gay movie without romance. The protagonist becomes lovestruck with the lifeguard who saved his life. However, the emphasis is on his self-discovery journey rather than a relationship. The plot highlights his introspection as he struggles with his attraction. He fantasizes about his crush and overthinks all their platonic interactions. Yet, there are no kisses or hookups between them. Rooted won't interest viewers looking for an overt love story. Adjust your expectations before watching this film.

Wu feels aroused after meeting the lifeguard. Yet, he represses these desires and recites clinical terms to deny his lust. The story connects its narrative themes to healing practices like acupuncture and cupping therapy, which remove blockages in the body. Likewise, Wu wants to release the emotional and psychological tensions within himself. This movie takes a unique approach to depicting Wu's sexual awakening. You don't typically associate traditional Chinese medicine with sexuality. Rooted defies expectations and finds an unconventional way to explore the topics.

Rooted contains many metaphors. The filmmaker has embedded subtle messages into every scene, inviting viewers to decipher the cryptic imagery. From ambiguous facial expressions to close-up shots of random objects, this movie demands critical analysis. Some viewers will appreciate the thoughtfulness behind each motif. Others may feel turned off by the abstract ideas. There's too much to interpret for a half-hour short film. Symbolism makes a story more meaningful, but it also increases the complexity. Rooted risks alienating its audience with excessive intricacy.

Although I was never bored, Rooted seems slow and uneventful. The most exciting moment is when Wu gets rescued in the beginning. Otherwise, not much happens in the plot. Wu's inner turmoil unfolds quietly and mundanely. His interactions with the lifeguard are also mild-mannered. It doesn't help that some scenes feel similar and reiterate the same points. Early on, the movie already established Wu is secretly smitten with his love interest. Yet, it keeps elaborating on his infatuation without adding new context. The narrative goes in circles instead of moving forward.

In the movie's final stretch, Wu and the lifeguard meet on the beach at night. As they chat intimately, you can feel the sexual tension in the atmosphere. The whole narrative has been building up to this moment. After waiting so long, you almost anticipate something to happen between the leads. Is Wu going to confess? How will the lifeguard respond? When are they going to kiss? Sadly, don't get your hopes up. This film had an opportunity for a thrilling climax, but it chose a quiet conclusion with subdued emotions. The lack of a satisfying payoff feels like a letdown.

After overcoming my disappointment, I rewatched the last scene and gained a newfound appreciation. The conclusion is meaningful in an understated way. Wu may not have a lover, but he becomes enlightened and learns a valuable lesson about himself. As the story celebrates Wu's empowerment, his self-discovery journey finishes triumphantly. The sophisticated ending makes me more receptive to the movie, raising my opinion. Despite its thoughtfulness, I wasn't moved or entertained during my viewing experience. Overall, Rooted is a mediocre short film.


Uneventful story

Rooted focuses on the lead's inner turmoil as he struggles with his desires. Some ideas, like the topic of Chinese medicine, are meaningful. Yet, the slow and mundane story develops uneventfully.

Repressed romance

The movie contains almost no romance. Instead of finding love, the protagonist represses his attraction. The plot emphasizes sexual awakening and secret yearning rather than a relationship.

Okay acting

Wu's actor (Lin Wei Jie) takes centre stage. He does an okay job and fulfills the necessities of the role. However, his performance is only adequate and doesn't elevate the story.

Meaningful ending

Rooted has a sad ending where Wu doesn't find love. However, he becomes enlightened and learns a valuable lesson. His self-discovery journey finishes meaningfully and triumphantly.

Thoughtful artistry

This movie lacks the polish of a high-budget production. With that said, everything looks acceptable. The story likes to include lots of cryptic symbolism, almost excessively so.


Rooted is a thoughtful short movie with insightful messages and lots of introspection. However, the story feels slow, mundane, and uneventful. There is also no romance between the characters.

Rooted Ending Explained


Ending Explained

Rooted has a sad ending where Wu doesn't get together with the lifeguard.

Since the start, Wu has harboured a crush on the lifeguard. Despite many attempts to repress himself, his desires intensified and turned into an obsession. He overstepped boundaries to get closer to his love interest. However, the feelings aren't mutual. During one scene, we see Wu browsing a gay app. In contrast, the lifeguard is shown looking for jobs on his phone. The movie wants to highlight their different priorities. Wu cares about hooking up, but his partner is trying to make a living.

Wu and the lifeguard meet on the beach in the last scene. As they chat, Wu puts his hand on his partner's shoulder. He's making a subtle romantic pass. However, the lifeguard doesn't reciprocate and shrugs off the physical contact. At that moment, Wu realizes he has misinterpreted their relationship. No, the lifeguard doesn't want him. It's only a one-sided crush stemming from a desperate imagination. After Wu comes to terms with reality, his perspective evolves. He grabs his companion's hand and gives medical advice. His words are comforting with no flirtatious undertones.

Wu used to fantasize about the lifeguard sexually. Now, lust no longer skews his perception. Wu realizes the lifeguard is struggling, from job insecurity to health problems. This troubled man has more urgent priorities than being in a relationship. Wu shifts from a physical attraction to a genuine empathy. Rather than lust after the lifeguard's body, Wu cares about healing his injuries. Later, the lifeguard rescues a woman on the beach. Wu becomes enlightened and understands their past encounter means nothing romantically. This guy was only doing his job and saving lives.

The last scene shows Wu drifting in the water, similar to how the movie began. However, he starts swimming away instead of staying still. Wu is no longer "rooted" in one unattainable relationship. After his recent enlightenment, our protagonist has learned to move on

Rooted Information

Wu is in the ocean.

Rooted is a Taiwanese movie that released on May 5, 2023. It is a short film, which you can finish in around 30 minutes. Yi Wei Wu (吳亦偉) is the movie director.

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